2020 – The China Challenge: A Discussion of China’s Role in International Relations

On Monday, March 9, 2020, Texas Tech University’s Office of International Affairs and the American Academy of Diplomacy  hosted the fifth annual Texas Tech Ambassadors Forum. Moderated by Ambassador Ronald E. Neumann, the discussion on China’s role in international relations featured Ambassador Sylvia Stanfield and Ambassador Charles Ray.

During their time in Lubbock, the Ambassadors meet with members of the leadership of the Lubbock Independent School District and about 200 local high school students, and attended sessions with Texas Tech students and faculty. More information on the event can be found here.

News coverage of the 2020 Texas Tech Ambassadors Forum discussion:
Texas Tech Ambassadors Forum highlights testy relationship between U.S., China – Austin American Statesman

Panel Discussion

Moderator: Amb. Ronald Neumann 

Ambassador (ret.) Ronald E. Neumann is President of the American Academy of Diplomacy, an organization of former senior diplomats dedicated to strengthening American diplomacy. Formerly a Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Middle East, Neumann served three times as Ambassador; to Algeria, Bahrain and finally to Afghanistan from July 2005 to April 2007. Much of his early career focused on the Persian Gulf and Arabian Peninsula including service in Iraq (2004-05), working extensively with the military. Since his service in Afghanistan he has returned there frequently and writes and speaks extensively on the subject. He has authored a book on his time in Afghanistan titled The Other War: Winning and Losing in Afghanistan, as well as wrote Three Embassies, Four Wars; A Personal Memoir. In earlier postings he served as Director of the Office for Iran and Iraq, Deputy Chief of Mission in the United Arab Emirates, and in Yemen, and Principal Officer in Tabriz, Iran. In 2018, he received the American Foreign Service Association’s award for Lifetime Contributions to American Diplomacy. He holds a B.A. in history and an M.A. in political science and was an infantry officer in Vietnam (’69-70). He is married to the former M. Elaine Grimm. They have two children.

Ambassador Charles Ray

Charles A. Ray served as U.S. Ambassador to the Kingdom of Cambodia and the Republic of Zimbabwe. In addition, he was the first U.S. Consul General to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, opening the Consulate General in 1998.

From 2006 to 2009, he served as Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for POW/Missing Personnel Affairs, responsible for DoD efforts to account for those missing in combat from World War II to the then current conflicts and for policy related to the rescue of personnel who become isolated, missing, or taken in service abroad.

During his diplomatic career, Ray served as deputy chief of mission in Freetown, Sierra Leone, and at consular posts in Guangzhou and Shenyang, China, and Chiang Mai, Thailand. He was diplomat-in-residence at the University of Houston during the 2005-2006 academic year; responsible for outreach and recruiting at colleges and universities in South Texas.

Prior to joining the Foreign Service in 1982, he served 20 years in the United States Army, with postings in Europe and Asia, including two tours in Vietnam during the war. He retired in 2012 from the Foreign Service and is now engaged in consulting, public speaking, and writing. He is the author of more than 30 works of fiction and nonfiction, including a historical series about the Buffalo Soldiers, the African-American soldiers who served on the western frontier.

In addition to his government service, Ray has worked as a newspaper/magazine journalist, photographer, and artist, and was editorial cartoonist for the Spring Lake (NC) News, a weekly newspaper in central North Carolina during most of the mid to late-1970s.

He has a B.S. in business administration from Benedictine College, in Atchison, KS, an M.S. in systems management from the University of Southern California, and an M.S. in national security strategy from the National War College, National Defense University. In 2001, he received the Thomas Jefferson Award from American Citizens Abroad (ACA) for his work in support of American business in southern Vietnam.

Ambassador Slyvia Stanfield

Ambassador (retired) Sylvia Gaye Stanfield was the U.S. Ambassador to Brunei Darussalam from 1999-2002 and a career member of the U.S. Senior Foreign Service.

Asia was the focus of much of her 30 plus years with the Foreign Service. Her first overseas assignment was with the then American Embassy in Taipei, Taiwan.  As a political track Chinese language officer, she had postings with the U.S. Consulate General in Hong Kong, the U.S. Embassy in Beijing, and the American Institute in Taiwan in Taipei. She served on the State Department’s “China desk” at the time of the normalization of U.S. relations with the People’s Republic of China and later headed the Office of Taiwan Coordination Affairs.  She was Director of Australian and New Zealand Affairs prior to serving as Charge d’Affaires and Deputy Chief of Mission of the U.S. Embassy in Wellington, New Zealand. Her wide-ranging Washington assignments included those with the Bureau of African Affairs, the Bureau of International Organizations Affairs, the Office of the Inspector General, the Board of Examiners, and the Senior Seminar.  She was Diplomat-in-Residence at Florida A&M University and at Spelman College before serving as Senior Advisor for Mentoring Coordination at the Department of State.

Along with continuing involvement in mentoring activities, she is a President of Black Professionals in International Affairs (BPIA) – an organization founded in the late 1980’s to increase African-Americans’ interest and involvement in international affairs, and a member of the Association of Black American Ambassadors executive committee. She also is a Director of the Miami University (Ohio) Foundation Board, and a past president and current member of the Western College Alumnae Association Board of Trustees.

A native Texan, she earned a B.A. degree in intercultural studies from Western College for Women in Oxford, Ohio.   While an East West Center grantee, she received a M.A. degree in Asian Studies from the University of Hawaii and continued her studies at the University of Hong Kong School of Oriental Studies and Linguistics.  After joining the Foreign Service, she did further study in Mandarin and Cantonese at the State Department’s School of Advanced Chinese Language and Area Studies in Taiwan.